Only a few miles from where the Eighth was activated in Savannah, the dream of a WWII veteran was realized with the Mighty Eighth Heritage Center; today’s National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force. Immediately following the war, Major General Lewis E. Lyle. dedicated himself to helping the families of the fallen. Locating graves and handling paperwork were just two of the ways he continued to serve. Then he turned towards the future and how these remarkable men, and their stories, could be forever preserved and shared. Unlike so many of the memorials around the world, there is no battlefield in the sky where loved ones can remember their fallen. Lyle knew there needed to be one place where the veterans of the Eighth, the families, and all those who would come after, could learn about the sacrifices and honor all who served in the Mighty Eighth.
The National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force opened on May 14, 1996 in Pooler, GA. Covering an area of 90,000 square feet, the museum is situated just a few miles from downtown Savannah, where the Eighth Air Force was activated in 1942. It showcases the bravery, valor, patriotism, and sacrifices of the Eighth’s heroes.
Upon entering the museum’s General Lewis E. Lyle rotunda, visitors are immediately transported to a bygone era. General Lyle, who flew over 70 bombing missions during WWil, envisioned the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force as the perfect repository for the Eighth Air Force’s unparalleled history.
With no battlefields in the sky, the museum provides visitors with a unique opportunity to experience the rich and fascinating history of the Mighty Eighth Air Force by showcasing exhibits, rare objects, photographs, planes, and the immersive Mission Experience, as well as the fully restored B-17 Flying Fortress, the City of Savannah.
In addition to the museum, the campus includes a Memorial Garden, the Chapel of the Fallen Eagles, and five static aircraft. The National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force is a must-see destination, offering visitors a chance to learn about stories of courage, sacrifice, duty, and honor, all of which make it an unforgettable experience.
Throughout the year, the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force educates thousands of students from the region in history and STEM education programs. Summer camps and Bunkin’ In opportunities provide experiential learning that goes beyond traditional classroom settings. By experiencing history firsthand and participating in scientific and technological advances, school children gain a deeper understanding of the subject matter and are able to appreciate the significance and relevance of these events in a powerful way.
Preserving and presenting this history lies at the core of the museum’s mission. World War II Eighth Air Force veteran and long-time Mighty Eighth Museum leader and supporter, Frank D. Murphy “100th BG/418th BS” said it best: “It is incumbent on us… to ensure that their deeds and dedication will be honored and preserved from discredit or oblivion.”